Re: aikido and competition
The first technique in Budo Renshu (from 1933) has Nage initiating the waza by attacking uke with a strike to the face. This technique is practiced by Tomiki folks as the first waza in the Kory Goshin no Kata (Old Style Self Defense). Now most Aikido techniques tend to be practiced as Go no sen (reactive) but sen no sen (seizing the initiative) timing has always been part of what we do. I don't believe Aikido is an aggressive art but that does not preclude us from, once we find ourselves in a sticky situation, from using all at our disposal.
That said. Toshu randori is probably the closest to actual fighting we can get and subsequently is much more difficult to do safely and with meaning. By safety I mean not getting hurt (duh) and by meaning I mean to improve our Aikido techniques. Basically this means we exclude situations where it could degenerate from its purpose to something else.
So with tanto randori the initiative lies heavily in favor of tanto - with toshu there is no distinction. Since we don't want to train our Judo techniques we preclude grabbing the Dogi but all else is fair, same with closed punches and kicks. You want to integrate everything into a whole - cross-train. The only other rule that we have is that both members have to try their best. It's no good standing back and saying look at me I'm doing Aikido.
Whether or not you are doing tanto or toshu randori it is important to increase the level of resistance slowly. Start from none and move up. By slowly I mean over the course of weeks rather than minutes. The ones who get it look very relaxed and fluid, they probe for openings and explode with perfect timing.
I've seen similar exercises in some special Aikiaki dojos - where nage and uke continuously switch roles with techniques not taken to completion. In other words one person does something and then the other person counters with a waza and the counter is countered ... I've also seen more common is transitioning techniques where you move from one uncompleted technique to another. This is generally what's happening in Toshu randori except the idea is to take to completion everything you try and at the same time to shut the other guy down.
By mutual agreement you can introduce variations. Allow kicks and punches, dogi grabbing. I prefer not to in that I find even with these restrictions it takes effort not to get caught up in a wrestling match. However, in my little group if you go to ground keep on going. Honbu would frown on that but I just enjoy a little wrastling.
So Chris please try and get back to us.